Planting a Presence

My goal for All Saints is to plant an Orthodox Christian presence in West Point and the surrounding area.  Where it goes from there is up to God’s will.

Pier Fisherman at Sunrise

What do I mean by an Orthodox Christian presence?  Am I trying to start a parish?   Yes and no.  Of course, the thought of becoming a priest and having a church in my hometown has crossed my mind more than 100 times.  I even created this icon as a symbol of human harmony in the pursuit of holiness.  Saints from Africa, Russia, Syria, and North America with Jerusalem crosses surrounding the icon of All Saints.  A multi-cultural parish of our ancient faith in a small southern town would be a wonderful sign of God’s presence in our modern world. 

West Point, Virginia

However, this area is a stronghold of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.  Up until about 5 years ago, there was not even an Orthodox parish in Williamsburg.  Therefore, the idea of creating one in a town without much exposure to the faith is a tall order.  Not that I have not made previous efforts of inviting people to the West Point Library’s Community Room to introduce them to Orthodox iconography and prayer for a couple of years.  Being a son of and former Baptist Pastor in lower King William County, I thought that (like Jesus) I would have a “Nicodemus” coming to me at night to learn about it.  One or two people would show a passing curiosity about what “Rev. Gresham” has gotten himself into.  However, only passing; a quick glance with no real interest. 

My Diaconate Ordination (l to r: Fr. Deacon Chris Mertens, Bishop Thomas, and myself)

This is why I created the website; to generate a real interest about the faith.  The hope is that people will take the time to read the blog articles and think about the Orthodox perspective that I share.  In a small town where traditional beliefs run deep, there are many reasons not to be seen looking into something different.  Nevertheless, I believe there are some folk in and around town who are looking for a Christianity that goes beyond what they have grown up with.  Something with ancient roots and timeless practices.  This is what I was looking for and found in Orthodoxy.  I want to give my neighbors a place to look and live as a good example. 

An Orthodox parish in West Point, Virginia?  If God wills it. But, it would be great if a few of us in Barhamsville, the Indian Reservations, and Saluda would have some good conversations over deviled crabs at Three Rivers Seafood.

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